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The first-timer’s guide to Thailand

Take a long tail boat to the world-class Railay Beach

Seven things you should know before travelling

Thailand is a country of contrasts – there’s something guaranteed to satisfy everyone.

If you love big bustling cities, they don’t come more lively and electric than Bangkok, the nation’s capital. If you prefer quiet white sandy beaches perfect for family fun, then Koh Samui, an island oasis in the Gulf of Thailand could be your preferred destination.

Thailand has great food, an ancient cultural connection, and is the ultimate easy destination for travellers making their first trip to Asia.

Here are seven things you should know before you head off. 

 1.    Best time to visit Thailand

Thailand is lush with rainforest, which means it does rain, but thankfully it has two distinctly different dry seasons. Between November and April, the Andaman coast (west) – think Phuket, Ko Phi Phi and Krabi – is dry. The eastern Gulf of Ko Chang, Ko Mak and Koh Kut is also dry at this time.

Koh Samui, Ko Pha Ngan and Ko Tao are best from February to April or June to August.

Even in the rainy season though, don’t expect constant downpours. Showers tend to come and go. You can easily find a quiet spot for a drink, wait out the rain, and be back on the beach within an hour. April is the hottest month (temperatures around 31 degrees) while December is the coolest month (26 degrees).

2.    Life really is a beach

Not all beach destinations are the same. Many tourists agree that Thailand has the best beaches in the world. Expect to swim in clear water, relax on clean, sugary-white sands and take plenty of pictures of those iconic long tail boats that dot the coastline. No matter which beach you choose, you’ll find vendors selling souvenirs, food, drink and offering massages at a fraction of the cost you pay in Australia.

Here are some of the best beaches in Thailand:

  • Koh Samui is home to trendy resorts and classy cocktail bars. Chaweng Beach is worth a visit.
  • Phuket is a buzz of activity both on and off the beach. Kata Noi is known for its silky soft sand and there’s a decent surf break at the northern end.
  • Krabi is famous for its limestone cliffs and exhilarating rock climbing. Railay Beach, between Krabi and Ao Nang, is often referenced as Thailand’s best beach and you can only access it on one of those long tail boats.

 3.    Capital idea

Bangkok is a bit of everything. It’s ancient, and modern, all at the same time. Palaces and temples sit alongside skyscrapers and crowded shopping precincts. The best way to see the “City of Angels” is from the water where you will see sacred shrines like Wat Arun. You will also be able to visit the floating markets. Our favourite is the Tha Kha at Samut Songkhram.

Among the must-see spots are the Grand Palace, the jade sage at adjacent Wat Phra Kaew (Temple of the Emerald Buddha) and the vast reclining Buddha at Wat Pho. On weekends eat at the pop-up food stalls in Lumphini Park. There are endless things to do in Bangkok! Make sure you try tom yum – it’s one of the city’s most famous dishes.

4.    To tip or not

Tipping in Thailand is not expected, but it is appreciated. The locals do not tip.

5.    Weddings, honeymoon, any occasion really

Thailand is wedding and honeymoon heaven. What better place to start your married life together than here. And if you need help planning your big day check out Hoot’s all-inclusive Thailand wedding packages. A dedicated Hoot Weddings team, based in Australia, will help plan your wedding – and be onsite for the big day.

6.    Understanding culture

Family comes first in Thai culture. Second is country. Thai people are very patriotic so you need to be careful to show respect to King and country. Thai people are basically conservative. Shoulders and knees must be covered to enter wats and palaces. Bikinis should only be worn in appropriate places, like on the beach, or around pools.

7.    Shop, shop and shop some more

 Shopping in Thailand is world-class all year-round. Having said that, mid-June and mid-August when the Amazing Thailand Grand Sales are on is when you will uncover discounts of up to 80 per cent or buy-one-get-one deals at mega-malls and boutiques all over the country.

Chat to your Hoot Holidays specialist to book your Thailand holiday.